JERUSALEM (Apr. 13)
An American Jewish leader visiting Israel has defended the Bush administration against accusations of anti-Semitism.
There is a “tendency here and in the United States by some leadership and non-leadership to cast policy disagreements in the context of anti-Semitism.” Abraham Foxman. national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told a news conference here Monday after meeting with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
The administration’s recent disagreements with Israel “should not be viewed as anti-Semitism,” Foxman said
Me was referring specifically to the clash between Shamir’s Likud government and the Bush administration over the $10 billion in U.S.-guaranteed loans Israel wants to help resettle new immigrants The administration has refused to guarantee the loans unless Israel freezes Jewish settlement activity in the administered territories.
“If you ask me specifically whether the debate and the differences between Israel and the United States on the issue of loan guarantees (constitute) anti-Semitism. I’d say no. It’s a difference of opinion between two countries on an issue of foreign policy,” Foxman said.
The ADL leader blasted what he called “the almost perverse desire to believe” that members of the Bush administration are anti-Semites.
He cited widespread media reports that U.S. Secretary of State James Baker used an obscenity recently to dismiss American Jews, saying that “they don’t vote for us anyway”
A DESIRE TO BELIEVE THE WORST
“I wasn’t there when the secretary of state did or didn’t say what he was accused of.” Fox-man said. “He personally denied it So far to this day, those sources have not come forward He’s denied it five times. so where’ that whispered source’
“There is a desire to believe the worst,” Foxman said.
While he believes that some of the Bush administration’s policies toward Israel are “flawed and mistaken,” the ADL. leader stressed that America “should not be cast as an enemy.”
“I hear the word anti-Semitism.’ I hear the word Auschwitz’ I hear the US Jewish community in its anger and frustration on a difference of opinion and policy, resort to charges of anti-Semitism.
“I think that’s dangerous, because it dilutes the value and the meaning of the word and the experience and its impact.” Foxman said.
“I think we owe it to ourselves (to exercise) restraint and to put it in its proper context,” he added.
While he called for perspective when viewing US-Israeli relations, Foxman pointed out that true incidents of anti-Semitism have increased significantly during the past year.
A record 1879 acts were reported in 1991, an II percent increase over 1990.
He attributed the rise to “a new tolerance for such acts within American society. It is politically correct to bash Jews and Israel,” he said, adding that anti-Semitism is probably at its highest level since World War II.
“There is a new dimension of anti-Semitism in the United States,” Foxman went on. “The incidents are more violent, more intense, and in this last 12-month period, we in the American Jewish community have experienced a murder based on anti-Semitism.
“That death represents a new level of hate, and it has left a scar,” Foxman said.
He was referring to the killing of Yankel Rosenbaum, a Hasidic Jewish scholar, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn last summer during a peak of racial tension after a car driven by a Hasid ran down and killed a black child.
LATENT IN THE SEWERS’
A further alarming trend, Foxman said, is the increase of anti-Jewish incidents reported on college campuses for the fourth straight year. In 1991, 60 campuses reported 101 anti-Semitic incidents. Twenty-three of the colleges reported more than one episode.
“A few years back, the doors of college campuses were closed to racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism,” he said. “Now that frontier has been broken, and Jewish students are feeling intimidated.”
Though the number of incidents has increased, “anti-Semitism has been there all along, latent in the sewers,” Foxman said. “The recession and other factors just serve to open up the manhole covers. “We have to fight this growing trend,” he asserted, “to expose it and sensitize decent people against it. Let’s put an end to silence and apathy.”